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One day in late 1906, seventy-one-year-old Mark Twain attended a meeting on copyright law at the Library of Congress. The arrival of the famous author caused the usual stir-but then Twain took off his overcoat to reveal a "snow-white" tailored suit and scandalized the room. His shocking outfit appalled and delighted his contemporaries, but far more than that, as Pulitzer Prize finalist Michael Shelden shows in this wonderful new biography, Twain had brilliantly staged this act of showmanship to cement ...
In modern memory, Winston Churchill remains the man with the cigar and the equanimity among the ruins. Few can remember that at the age of 40, he was considered washed up, his best days behind him. In Young Titan, historian Michael Shelden has produced the first biography focused on Churchill's early career, the years between 1901 and 1915 that both nearly undid him but also forged the character that would later triumph in the Second World War. Between his rise and his fall, Churchill built a modern navy, experimented with radical social reforms, survived various threats on his life, made powerful enemies and a few good friends, annoyed and delighted two British monarchs, became a husband and father, took the measure of the German military machine, authorized executions of notorious murderers, and faced deadly artillery barrages on the Western front. Along the way, he learned how to outwit more experienced rivals, how to overcome bureaucratic obstacles, how to question the assumptions of his upbringing, how to be patient and avoid overconfidence, and how to value loyalty. He also learned how to fall in love. Shelden gives us a portrait of Churchill as the dashing young suitor who pursued three great beauties of British society with his witty repartee, political f lair, and poetic letters. In one of many never-before-told episodes, Churchill is seen racing to a Scottish castle to prepare the heartbroken daughter of the prime minister for his impending marriage. This was a time of high drama, intrigue, personal courage, and grave miscalculations. But as Shelden shows in this fresh and revealing biography, Churchill's later success was predicated on his struggles to redeem the promise of his youth.
Most people today think of Winston Churchill as simply the wartime British bulldog - a jowly, cigar-chomping old fighter demanding blood, sweat and tears from his nation. But the well-known story of the elder statesman has overshadowed an earlier part of his life that is no less fascinating, and that has never before been fully told. It is a tale of romance, ambition, intrigue and glamour in Edwardian London, when the city was the centre of the world, and when its best and brightest were dazzled by the meteoric rise to power of a young politician with a famous name and a long aristocratic background.Winston Churchill gave his maiden speech in Parliament at the very beginning of King Edward VII's reign in 1901 when he was only 26. By the time the guns of August 1914 swept away the Edwardian idyll, he was First Lord of the Admiralty - the civilian head of the largest navy in the world. In the intervening years, he often cut a dashing figure, romancing several society beauties, tangling with some of the most powerful political figures of his time, championing major social reforms, becoming one of the leading orators of the day, publishing six books, supervising an armed assault on anarchists, and working harder perhaps than anyone else to prepare his nation for war.
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